Pat. Rat. Sat. Cat. Fat. Wait a minute – go back to that c-word…yes, that’s it…C.A.T. It’s one of the first words we all learned to spell when we were little. It’s a little word that can garner a wide-range of dramatic emotions; few people are indifferent to cats. It seems like you either love them or hate them and for that reason I am writing this post. For those of you cat-lovers, enjoy! For those of you who hate cats, maybe it will give you a fresh perspective on the feline species.
There has never been a time in my life when I did not have a cat in my family. In fact, when I was just a baby a kitten was orphaned at our house and my family bottlefed him with my mom’s breastmilk! We grew up together and the poor guy had to endure a lot of dollying up when I was old enough to play with babydolls. When I was about 10, a mama cat brought her newborn babies to our house and I was very involved in their rearing. I especially bonded with one of them, who I named Marble. I could carry him around the yard and he would wrap his long tail around my back. I loved that kitty and was heartbroken when he was hit by a car and died.
Two years later, at a middle-school low point in my life, another kitten came on stage. She was so tiny her eyes weren’t even open and I had to bottlefeed her. When her eyes did open they gripped my heart forever. She was the cutest, homeliest kitten I had ever seen and I knew she had to be mine. This is Dingo. She has been my constant companion – travelling with me to Africa and back; comforting me when I am sad; snuggling on my shoulder when I am stressed and purring to help me relax; curling up by my side when I am sick; greeting me when I get home, first college, now teaching; meowing if I haven’t taken the time to talk to her because I’ve been too distracted with life.
Now, at the age of 14, she could easily be mistaken for a stuffed animal since she rarely leaves my bed. She moves from her pillow, to her blanket, to her windowseat vantage point and back again. Her body is getting the skinny look that comes with age, and she has arthritis. She has her moments of attitude when she smacks me firmly with her paw if I stop petting her. Dingo still manages to keep the younger cats and the dog in line with a simple squint of her eyes. Everyone in the household treats her with the respect she deserves. I have made it clear that Dingo is going to be the first cat to live forever.
If you talk to most cat-people, they have all had that one cat that was their constant through the tough moments in life. I can think of a few names – Big Foot, Newar, Klinger, Chester, Mac, and many more. I think these felines, and the ones to come, are little bits of heaven sent down to remind us that God loves us and has not forgotten we need the undying purr of a C.A.T.